Anyone who knows me is aware that I have contacts in many professional medical circles where I am both a friend and colleague with many types of medical professionals. Fields like PCP / Internist, PT's, Podiatrists, Orthopedics, Dentists, Pediatrics, Anesthesiologists, ER, Pain Management, Neurosurgeons, and many others. My patients know that if they have a problem outside my expertise, I probably know someone in the right specialty, and I know the Doctor personally.
Most of my medical friends are pretty honest about Chiropractic and what they think. My most common perception is that they just don't know anything or very little about my field. They do admit that they get questions about chiropractic from patients on a regular basis, and they admit they don't always know how to answer. Due to most of my medical friends being naturally curious, it typically leads to long talks about my training, safety, and the science behind what I do.
So let me address these three issues and include a few links if you want to explore on your own.
First off, let's address chiropractic training. I earned my Bachelors Degree at a major state university (University of Delaware). Having my Bachelors Degree allowed me to apply to a Chiropractic Graduate School. I was accepted to Life University near Atlanta, GA and a few others, and began the four year Doctorate program.
Here is a link to the current Chiropractic Curriculum at my Alma Mater if you like.
When I talk to my MD friends most of the class schedule seems pretty familiar to them from their medical school days with a few differences. This chart shows the overlap of the school programs.
( This chart was compiled using data on basic science comparisons and averaged following a review of curricula of 18 Chiropractic schools and 22 Medical Schools) Source- www.Yourmedicaldetective.com
If you compare the curricula more carefully, the first difference a detailed analysis will show is that we begin taking classes geared specificity to the Musculo-Skeletal system pretty early on. Classes like Exercise Physiology, or Spinal Bio-mechanics are required. We are a specialized field therefore our classes begin to become specialized much earlier. We also take classes that are distinctly chiropractic like how to adjust and would not be taught anywhere else as expected.
The second difference is that we do not have nearly as much pharmacology study. I wish I had more but because I do not prescribe pharmaceuticals it is understandable that my school training is less. Being in practice I have learned quite a bit more, but still nowhere near the amount of knowledge my MD friends have. That is the reason why the answer I give to the question “Should I stop / start / increase / decrease my medication?” is always... “You should ask the doctor who prescribed your meds how to manage your meds.”
The third and biggest difference is our Practicum, or Clinic or what my medical friends call residency. We do 2.5 years, but unlike my MD friends we are able to do ours concurrently with our school work. Not all Chiropractors do. Some opt to do all their schooling and then Practicum but most do them at the same time. The reason we can do this is that chiropractic clinics are only open standard business hours, so we can plan and schedule our classes and patients accordingly. We don't have emergency patients at 4 am or a need to staff a clinic 24 hours a day like a hospital requires. I am told some dental schools also run their student clinics this way but I am not an expert in their schools.
Another difference I get asked about between a Chiropractic residency and a MD residency is that our clinic hours are for 2.5 years and MD's do anywhere from 3 to 6 years of residency depending on their field of choice. My explanation to the difference in residency length is that our residency is only in one specialized field from the start to finish and theirs is spread out over a larger area. Your Pediatrician had to learn Geriatrics and visa-versa. That makes the MD program longer even though many of those skills will not be used once in practice.
So to sum up, and give the last details... After a four year Bachelors Degree you can get a Doctorate in Chiropractic with four years of Graduate School and two and a half years of residency. Then you can start a practice after passing five national board exams and possibly a state license exam depending on where you establish a practice. Also, don't forget continuing education classes every year to maintain your license. Maybe, I will cover more about the Board Certification Exams in another blog post.
Thank you for reading.
Dr. Judd Weinberg DC
Active Life & Health Center.